State has new look after a month of bill signings and vetoes
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – Sweeping changes in gay rights laws, crackdowns on handgun buyers and tougher environmental laws are giving California a new look after a frenzied month of bill signings in the governor’s office.
Gov. Gray Davis signed 948 and vetoed 169 of the 1,117 bills sent to his desk by the Legislature. Most of those signed go into effect Jan. 1.
The bill signings capped a tumultuous legislative session in California.
A truck slammed into the Capitol during a late-night hearing and lawmakers grappled with a statewide power crisis. The last week of the regular session was interrupted by terrorist attacks using four jetliners bound for California.
In the end, Davis spent a marathon weekend reviewing legislation and signing bills right up until a midnight Sunday deadline.
The bills he approved covered a wide array of issues including funding for low-performing schools, a $2.6 billion park bond measure and a package designed to protect consumers from identity theft crimes and telemarketers.
He signed into law redistricting bills that likely will allow Democrats to dominate the state Legislature and congressional delegation for the next decade.
And he cited the state’s growing budget woes as he vetoed dozens of bills, including a measure to boost workers compensation benefits and to discourage mothers from abandoning newborns.
The major bills signed by Davis this year include a measure proponents are calling the biggest expansion in domestic partner rights in the nation.
As of Jan. 1, more than 16,000 registered gay, lesbian and senior domestic partners will have rights to make medical decisions, adopt their partner’s children and will estates to surviving partners. Opponents said the bill undermines a March 2000 primary vote, in which 61 percent of voters said marriage should be between a man and a woman.
Davis also signed twin handgun bills that would require gun buyers to pass a written test and demonstrate to a safety instructor that they know how to operate the weapon.
The bills require handgun buyers to provide a thumb print, proof of residency, identification and a handgun safety certificate. The bills’ requirements take effect Jan. 1, 2003.
In the final hours before his deadline, Davis vetoed a measure to boost workers compensation benefits by up to $2.4 billion across five years. He has rejected two similar measures in the past.
Davis said he vetoed the latest bill because of ”shaky economic times” and said it fails to make adequate improvements to the state’s workers compensation program.
Also this session, Davis signed a bill that reduces the public university and college tuition paid by immigrant students who graduate from California high schools.
He approved a measure asking voters in March to approve a $200 million bond measure for counties to purchase updated voting systems. He signed a bill that prohibits insurers from canceling policies because of claims from hate-crime damages.
And he wielded what is being called a ”green pen,” signing a handful of growth and environmental bills to restrict land developers.
The biggest requires subdivision builders to get proof from water agencies that they have enough water in drought years for more than 500 homes.
The governor signed a pair of growth bills to help curb sprawl. Davis also approved a $2.6 billion March 2002 ballot measure to create new state parks, upgrade urban parks and clean up state beaches.
On the Net: Read press releases about the bills signings and vetoes at http://www.gov.ca.gov
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